Personal Injury

Arizona family killed in crash of ‘build-it-yourself’ airplane

LancairIV PC GLFP02 435x326 Arizona family killed in crash of build it yourself airplaneA private airplane carrying a vacationing Arizona family crashed in Southern California Saturday morning, killing all three people aboard.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s office identified the crash victims as William (Bill) Stern Jr., 65, his wife Jennifer, 53; ad their daughter Katelyn, 19. Mr. Stern was the president and owner of Stern Produce Co., a Phoenix-based produce supplier with three distribution facilities in Arizona.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Sterns’ single-engine Lancair IV-P airplane crashed about 10:15 in the morning in the hilly terrain west of San Diego. Recovery efforts continued through Monday, and the crash remains under investigation by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The FAA reported that Mr. Stern had his pilot’s license for more than a decade, and friends of the family told Phoenix’s 3TV News that he regularly flew his family on trips. The Sterns were flying back to Phoenix after vacationing at their San Diego beach home when the crash occurred.

KXV-TV reported that one witness who was hiking in the vicinity of the crash told the California Highway Patrol the airplane was flying as if it were performing stunts before it went down with a loud boom. The hiker attempted to reach the site, but ultimately found the location to be inaccessible by foot.

The particular Lancair airplane model flown by Mr. Stern was the subject of an FAA safety warning in 2009. The planes were sold as kits to be assembled by flying enthusiasts.

“The Lancair fatal accident rate is substantially higher than both personal-use general aviation as well as the overall fatal accident rate for all amateur-built experimental aircraft,” the FAA said at the time.

Lancair said on its website that the 4-seater IV-P airplane kit is one of several airplane kits it stopped manufacturing in 2012, but that it continues to supply parts and technical assistance for the discontinued models.

Bloomberg News reported that Micron Technology CEO Steve Appleton was killed while flying a Lancair IV-P on February 2, 2012.

“Although designed to be built at home, the four-seat plane is made of carbon fiber to reduce weight and has a pressurized cabin so it can fly at high altitudes … It’s categorized by the FAA as an experimental aircraft, meaning it’s not subject to the same certification standards as a factory-built plane by Cessna Aircraft …” Bloomberg reported.


3TV News
Arizona Republic